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Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map




Gardening in wetter areas

The following wildflowers will do well in areas that are consistently moist or regularly very wet. These plants have a high water requirement and can outcompete other plants when plenty of water is available. These plants are therefore found in areas where the soil surface is close to the water table. This occurs in riparian environments, flood plains and in wet meadows where sub-surface drainage may be slow. Do not presume that these plants can survive well in clay soils in which water movement can also be quite slow.

Here is a list of perennials and shrubs that will survive well in a wet environment. True aquatic species are not included in this list.

Name Notes
Andropogon glomeratus (Bush Blue Stem) native These grasses are host plants for skippers and provide seeds for birds.
Aronia melanocarpa native A great plant for the provision of nectar and berries.
Asclepias incarnata. native Swamp milkweed thrives in moist environments although establish plants can tolerate some drought too.
Aster puniceus native Swamp aster - well the name says it all.
Boltonia asteroides native These plants are host plants for some blue butterflies and they provide an early source of nectar.
Bromus ciliatus (Fringed Brome) native Grasses provide a source of food for many butterflies, moths and grasshoppers. Their seeds feed wild birds.
Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold) native A member of the buttercup family. Its bright yellow flowers stick out at you in the springtime.
Carex sp native Many species of sedge are wetland specialists and they host a large number of butterflies.
Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush) native This plant has distinctive ball shaped flowers that flower at the end of the summer. They are a good food source for insects and later on become a food source for wild fowl when they fruit.
Chelone sp. (Turtlehead) native Popular with bumblebees, these plants are great for moist wildlife gardens.
Coreopsis sp. native Many species of Coreopsis prefer dry soil sites, however, Coreopsis rosea and Coreopsis trypteris do well in the wetter areas.
Cypripedium sp. native(Lady-slipper Orchids) This genus includes some of the most beautiful flowers on the continent. They do well in moist soils.
Doellingeria umbellata native Great plant for a range of pollinators
Eutrochium native Most species do well in wet areas and they attract bees and butterflies in droves.
Gentiana andrewsii native An eye-catching plant with its fascinating flowers that bumblebees have to work so hard to get into.

Helenium autumnale native(Sneezeweed)

It does well in moist areas and in clay. It is popular with bees.

Helianthus sp. native (Sunflowers)

Helianthus giganteus does well in moist to wet soils.
Hibiscus sp.native Hibiscus are well known for the large red flowers. Hibiscus moscheutos also known as swamp rose mallow will not tolerate dry soil.
Iris sp. native Flag irises grow well in wetter areas.
Lathyrus palustris Known as Marsh Pea.
Liatris spicata native This liatris species grows well in wet meadows although it still requires a reasonable well-drained soil. The corm may rot in clay soil during the winter.
Lilium canadense native Lilies attract hummingbirds and sphinx moths.
Lilium michiganense native As above, these lilies may attract hummingbirds and sphinx moths. The plant is naturally found on floodplains.
Lobelia native Provide us with some of the most striking flowers in the garden. Lobelias need a well drained soil that is constantly moist. They do well in riparian zones.
Mimulus sp. native There are various species of monkey flower and they are all beautiful. If only they would grow in my dry sandy soil.

Monarda sp. native (Beebalm)

A fabulous plant for attracting hummingbirds as well as bees. Monarda media and Monarda didyma are worth trying.
Physostegia virginiananative In regular soil, this plant can grow out of control. In wet areas, it seems to be more contained by the growth of other plants.
  Pussy willow  
  Pussy willows flowers in early spring  

Salix discolor native (Pussy Willow)

Generally, a bush shrub that is a host plant for Mourning Cloak, Viceroy and Red spotted purple butterflies.
Spartina pectinata native Grasses provide a source of food for many butterflies, moths and grasshoppers. Their seeds feed wild birds. This species spreads by rhizomatous roots and is not suitable for small gardens.
Spiraea tomentosa native Steeplebush or Hardhack is an upright native plant with pink spires that attract butterflies.
Verbena hastata native Striking flowerheads that attract bees and butterflies.
Vernonia sp. native An excellent late-season nectar source.
Veronicastrum virginicum native Excellent plant for attracting bees. It can tolerate some dryness and is highly suitable even in gardens that are more ornamental.